News / Asia

Report: Deal Reached in China Media Censorship Protest

Security guards stand near protest banners and flowers are laid outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province January 7, 2013. Security guards stand near protest banners and flowers are laid outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province January 7, 2013.
x
Security guards stand near protest banners and flowers are laid outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province January 7, 2013.
Security guards stand near protest banners and flowers are laid outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province January 7, 2013.
VOA News
Government officials and journalists at a newspaper in southern China are reported to have reached a tentative deal to end a week-long standoff over government media censorship.

Though many details of the agreement remain unclear, reports said editors who had gone on strike have agreed to return to work and will publish the next edition of the Southern Weekly as usual on Thursday.

Quoting sources close to the negotiations, some reports said staff who walked off the job would not face punishment and the government would agree to loosen press controls that many journalists saw as excessive.

Doug Young, a journalism professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, says that the apparent concessions were likely the best possible outcome for the journalists.

"I would call it maybe a small victory, because it doesn't sound like they won any concrete concessions," says Young. "Getting this sort of a broader more vague promise probably represents the best they could have hoped for in this particular instance."

The dispute began last week when censors blocked an editorial urging political reform, and replaced it with one praising the Communist Party. It soon turned into a nationwide online protest against China's strict media censorship, with celebrities and other public figures expressing their support for the paper.

On Wednesday, a small group of protesters gathered for a third straight day outside the Southern Weekly in Guangzhou to protest censorship. One of the protesters, Xiao Qingshan, said he wants wider reforms to the country's media.

"We want freedom of speech to air our real voice," he says. "If we always have censorship and the media face shutdown every day, the media become a tool to cheat the people. Is there any hope for our country?"

  • A supporter of the Southern Weekly newspaper in a wheelchair chants slogans in front of police officers near the newspaper's office in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 10, 2013.
  • A protester is taken away by plainclothes police officers and placed in a jeep near the office of Southern Weekly newspaper in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 10, 2013.
  • Leftists carrying portraits of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong demonstrate outside the office of the liberal Southern Weekly newspaper in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 9, 2013.
  • Police separate a supporter of the Southern Weekly from confronting leftists protesting outside the office of the liberal newspaper in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 9, 2013.
  • A police officer walks past supporters of Southern Weekly demonstrating outside the office of the liberal newspaper in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, January 9, 2013.
  • Demonstrators hold banners outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, January 8, 2013.
  • Demonstrators hold banners, portraits of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong, and Chinese national flags next to police outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper, January 8, 2013.
  • A man lays a bouquet of chrysanthemums in front of the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper, January 7, 2013.
  • Demonstrators gather along a street near the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper, January 7, 2013.
  • Security guards stand near protest banners and flowers are laid outside the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper, January 7, 2013.


On Tuesday, minor scuffles broke out between free-speech protesters and Communist Party supporters, who carried red flags and posters of Chairman Mao.

The protesters called for the resignation of Tuo Zhen, the provincial propaganda chief, who they blamed for changing the editorial and overseeing other strict censorship measures. Many observers said Beijing was unlikely to make such a huge concession.

Any possible concessions made by the government under the tentative agreement remain unclear, partly because Southern Weekly staff have reportedly been told not to discuss the case with foreign media. When contacted by VOA, staff at the paper's Beijing and Guangzhou offices said they were not in a position to discuss the situation.

The controversy has also reportedly widened to include another paper with a progressive reputation. Several unconfirmed reports suggest Dai Zegeng, the editor of the Beijing News, resigned after being forced to publish a state media editorial blaming the controversy on "external activists."  Although the Beijing News did publish the editorial, it was placed near the back of the paper.

There were other signs suggesting Beijing had no intention of handing the rebel journalists any broad concessions. A leaked Central Propaganda Department directive circulating online suggests that "hostile foreign forces" were responsible for the dispute, and insisted that government control of the media is an "unwavering basic principle."

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ARVIND KUMAR from: PATNA
January 10, 2013 5:40 PM
Ah , if only the Indian media were to be as intrepid!


by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
January 09, 2013 10:34 PM
Tell me VOA has no censorship, I can post any comments and anything I want.
Now you get something?

In Response

by: Wangchuk from: NYC
January 11, 2013 10:32 AM
Well Mr. Huang's comment got posted, didn't it? Mr. Huang is a 50 Cent Party member who frequently posts pro-CCP messages on VOA and his comments get posted. If I try to post anti-CCP or pro-Tibetan freedom messages on Xinhua, Peoples Daily or Global Times they either don't get posted or are deleted. Once again the CCP has failed in its arguments. The CCP is a one-party dictatorship and China, Tibet & E. Turkestan won't be free until the CCP is gone.


by: Anonymous
January 09, 2013 4:50 PM
we need freedom to express our opinions


by: Mark Newham from: Atlantis
January 09, 2013 3:30 PM
Shame on all involved in this story. The journos for caving in. The Chinese government for making them... and for proving my prediction in my book 'Limp Pigs' - the inside story of the Chinese censorship machine - accurate. Experience of the internal workings of the machine led me to predict that things for the Chinese media will get worse - a lot worse - before they get better and that we won't see any improvement until the old guard goes. So don't hold your breath for big imminent changes. Sad to be proved right.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid